UNIONS and industry groups have called on the NSW government to resolve confusion at the state’s southern border, with reports truck drivers are being issued with isolation notices despite falling into the category of ‘critical services’.
The NSW-Victoria border was locked down on Tuesday night to prevent the spread of coronavirus, albeit the movement of freight is intended to go unhindered.
TWU Victoria Tasmania branch secretary John Berger truck drivers were providing an essential critical service, delivering food, fuel and medicines.
“They are keeping the economy and businesses open by distributing goods across Australia,” Mr Berger said.
“The NSW government has serious questions to answer in regards to the ambiguous language put forth on the permit notices regarding the 14-day isolation period.
“We seek clarity from the NSW government about these isolation notices and call on the NSW government to end this practice immediately.”
Peak body Road Freight NSW issued a statement also seeking clarification, noting the permits stated that “not following these rules is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties”.
Chief Executive Simon O’Hara said the regulation was causing concern amongst RFNSW members.
“Our members need to know what the self-isolation edict means in practice,” Mr O’Hara said.
“As a matter of urgency, RFNSW is raising the issue with the NSW Government, as we need clarity for drivers and business owners. Exactly what will drivers need to do after a border crossing and how will forcing drivers off the road impact deliveries of essential food and grocery supplies?
“At the moment, the policy is too ambiguous, leaving our members with too many questions.”
Australian Logistics Council CEO Kirk Coningham said they were “aware of the impractically of any requirement for freight vehicle drivers to isolate for 14 days upon entry to NSW”.
“We have been raising this matter directly with responsible ministers and authorities in NSW since early [Wednesday],” he said. “We encourage the NSW government to follow the approach adopted by several other states and provide an exemption from self-isolation requirements for those working in essential services.”